Ribeiro off to Quebec

By PAT HICKEY
Montreal Gazette
October 19, 2001 Ribeiro off to Quebec Young centre sent to minors to make room for Gilmour By PAT HICKEY The Montreal Gazette Mike Ribeiro was the odd man out yesterday as the Montreal Canadiens made room for veteran Doug Gilmour. The 38-year-old Gilmour was activated yesterday and will play tonight when the Canadiens face the Capitals at the MCI Centre (7 p.m., TQS, CJAD Radio-800).
Ribeiro will be wearing the uniform of the Quebec Citadelles as they entertain the St. John's Maple Leafs tonight at Le Colisee. The Canadiens demoted Ribeiro to make room for Gilmour on their 23-man roster.
As expected, the two players involved expressed different emotions as they headed in opposite directions.
"I'm glad to be back," Gilmour said. "I'm excited, maybe a little nervous, but I'm ready to play."
Ribeiro said he was disappointed about heading back to the minors, but expressed some satisfaction with his performance in the four games he played with the Canadiens.
"I know I'm going down because there are more experienced guys in front of me and not because I can't play at this level," he said.
Gilmour, who signed a $1.8-million U.S. contract on the eve of the season opener, is expected to play on one of the top two lines, but coach Michel Therrien said the plan was to break him in slowly.
"We'll use him on the fourth line with Chad Kilger and Gino Odjick, and we also plan to use him as a penalty-killer and maybe on the power play," Therrien said. "That should be about 10-12 minutes."
The question then becomes: how long will it be before Gilmour plays a larger role?
"We'll take it game-by-game," Therrien said, although he didn't rule out the possibility of juggling lines during tonight's game or during tomorrow night's home game against the Buffalo Sabres.
"You have to remember that he didn't have any training camp," Therrien said of Gilmour. "We don't want to put him in a position where he might get hurt, and we're also thinking about what's best for the team. We have to see how his timing is and how he fits in with the other players."
It was the Sabres game that was on Gilmour's mind when he sat down with Therrien on Wednesday.
"He wanted to make sure he was playing in that game," the coach said. "When we talked about getting him into the lineup, we decided that it would be a good idea to start on the road. There's a little pressure and you get the chance to do a little bonding with your teammates. In this situation, it's always better to play the first game on the road."
The Buffalo game takes on added significance because Gilmour played in Buffalo last season. It wasn't the happiest season of his career, as he coped with limited ice time and an unwanted move from centre to left wing.
"I think that whenever you play against a team you played for, it's something special," Gilmour said. "In this case, there are a lot of guys that I know and like on the Sabres. But I don't think we'll be talking before the game. We'll wait until it's over."
Therrien said the decision to send Ribeiro back to the minors was a tough one.
"We've had to make tough decisions before in training camp, and Mike is only 21 and he still needs more experience," Therrien said. "We feel the best place to get that experience is in Quebec.
"We're in a situation here where we're healthy and everyone in Quebec is healthy, so we have to make decisions that will be best for the team. Mike took the news well. I've never seen a player go down to Quebec with a grin from ear to ear, but he has a positive attitude."
Said Ribeiro: "I have to stay positive. I have to go to Quebec and play hard and make sure that when they need someone here, I'm the first one they call."
The call could come sooner than expected. Because Gilmour joined the team after the NHL waiver draft, the Canadiens had to put Patrick Poulin on waivers. NHL teams have until noon tomorrow to claim Poulin, who will be a healthy scratch tonight for the fourth time in seven games.